Homeschooling With Littles
Although I am by no means an expert, I am finding my own
And on many days that means chaos!
Potty and diaper breaks, and snacks. Lotsa snacks.
Breast feeding while feeding my toddler her little "squishies"
Constantly picking up toys strewn about that could be hazardous
to anyone walking around the main floor.
Mopping up spills, and hugs for many tears.
Dealing with tantrums, and sickness.
Appointments for growth & check ups.
Ensuring adequate nap times & of course, impromptu extra bath times ;)
On some days it feels like I've got more than a stove full of
pots on the go!
Or I've got my own little reality show going on...
"Mamma Trying To Stay Sane While Raising Little Children
& Homeschooling At The Same Time..Part 14"
I can just imagine it.
On more romantic days, I experience the warmest of feelings
exuding from my very breath, as I tightly
hold my precious ones close & read them a short story together.
Discussing the topic at hand & listening to them share
right from their sweet little hearts. Nothing like it.
Children usually hold nothing back & are full of compassion
that us adults often lack.
Just ask a young child, "What do YOU think we should do
about the Syrian Refugees?" OR "How should we
handle someone who is mistreating us?"
Now, of course their naivete means they lack the understanding
of what all that lived out could actually entail..
But their hearts?
So precious. So open. So loving & receptive.
That is why I remind myself over & over again
of why we are choosing to homeschool.
When we experience lack...
When I feel tired....
When I miss the days that I could run off to an appointment....
We have chosen to send our eldest two children back to school,
and we are very thankful for other options.
With the others, we plan to continue,
and take it year to year, allowing the Lord to give us direction.
So what are some of my thoughts on homeschooling with littles?
Here's a few tips that I've found helpful:
*Keep a few baby change stations handy.
I have one upstairs in the littles' bedroom by their two cribs.
I have another one handy near the homeschooling "station" we have,
and yet another in the front room where day time naps are often taken.
Diapers, extra change of clothes, wipes & creams are necessary around here.
The object is to make things as accessible as possible.
*Time your subjects around the schedules of your littles.
I aim to complete our math & English first thing when everyone is fresh in the morning.
The littles included. They're more likely to sit quietly & play when they're
not overtired. When the littles go for their afternoon nap, we aim to do a big chunk
of our readers together (right now, our social studies-geography & history, as well as science).
I find that leads to less frustration than trying to read with two littles clamoring for my full attention.
*Be flexible. Be very flexible indeed!
Although we aim to do our school work around the littles' nap time (last point), in reality we do it whenEVER we can! Having two littles means I am pulled in many directions throughout the day. To meet this need, I have chosen both curriculum that I teach, as well as independent work. The independent work is pulled out in a pinch when I have something to deal with (a quick trip to the potty, or impromptu accident, etc.). Often my children will: write their journal entry, practice their instrument, do an extra A.C.E. PACE work book, or do some more on one of their projects while I finish up.
*Have a "busy" basket or bin nearby for the littles.
This can include activities (depending on age) --> puzzles, flash cards, work books, colouring books, easy crafts, blocks, train tracks, books, stuffed animals etc. etc.
While we are doing school work, our toddler quite enjoys pulling our her workbooks & pencils. The baby gets excited seeing his box of mega blocks that he enjoys chewing on. I find that after a bit of time has passed, I switch it up to avoid boredom.
In this season, this means I have a mother's helper come 2 times a month to help around the house. For others I've spoken to, it can mean --> having dad do some of the school work in the evening, or a grandparent; or going to a local co-op, play group or incorporating regular hikes & field trips; or getting someone in to clean the house from time to time; or switching up curriculum to a completely independent program (i.e. on the computer or web for example). The point is not to be afraid to look at your options, to best support your family & homeschooling experience.
*Lastly, ensure you get enough rest, exercise & eat well.
I have learned this one the hard way....unfortunately...but if we don't get enough rest, over time, we will become frazzled in our homeschooling experience, and often impatient with our children. Take naps when you can and going to bed early can be helpful. Exercise is one that I find pays back MEGA dividends in energy. Eating healthy, well I'm biased as a Registered Nutritionist, but at least aim to focus your diet on whole foods. Supplement where needed. Overall, aim for balance!